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One of our lactation educators recently met with her son’s teacher to discuss high school admissions. The teacher is due with her second baby in two months and her goal is to provide breastmilk for her baby for one year, with as little supplementing as possible. As a working mom she had concerns about returning to work and being successful with breastfeeding. We address her main concerns below and how she and the school can work together to support her in reaching her goal.
Planning Ahead with the School
The teacher’s main concern was being able to provide enough milk for her baby because she was not able to pump regularly with her first child due to having back-to-back classes to teach. This is a common issue that many teachers face. While it’s not always possible, we suggest talking to the school about scheduling her classes with breaks in-between so there is time for regular pumping sessions. Since she will return to work at the beginning of the next school year, she can give her request to the school in advance. Many schools begin looking at their enrollment by February or earlier and finalize by March. Putting in a request at this time will give the school more ability to accommodate her since her request will be in when they plan for the following school year.
Making it easier for her to pump regularly during the day benefits the school because it allows her to focus on teaching and counseling her students. Otherwise she will worry about milk supply, leaking milk in front of students, and most importantly, not being distracted with an uncomfortably overly full feeing. If it is not possible to schedule breaks between classes, then she should nurse the baby right before leaving the house, pump right before her classes start, and have a quality pumping session right after her classes end. She needs to maintain the number of pumping sessions as the same number of missed feedings to help ensure her milk supply does not drop.
Hospital Grade Pump
With her first baby, the teacher found that the pump she received from her health insurance was not efficient enough to keep up her supply and it took a long time to pump milk. As a result, she had to get a hospital grade pump and was able to pump more efficiently and completely. This is an example how having a hospital grade pump at work really benefits mothers; they can keep up their supply and be able provide milk for their babies efficiently. We encourage schools buy a hospital grade pump for their employees or she should rent a hospital grade pump and see if she can claim some of the cost from her insurance in lieu of sending her a pump.
Access to a Private Room
With her previous baby, she did not have a private office but could use another office to pump milk and store her pump. Now she has her own office with a small refrigerator so she will be able to keep her pump at the school, store milk, and pump in her own office. The school is small and is not able to have a designated mother’s room, but the teacher has her office. This is a private space that she can use when she needs to pump. Her office has elements of a mother’s room such as a refrigerator and a hospital grade pump that make it more efficient to pump.
Breastfeeding Support for Teachers
Even though the school doesn’t have a designated mother’s room, they were still able to provide the teacher with the important essentials for breastfeeding support. She had access to a private area close by that is not a bathroom to pump. She was able to store a hospital grade pump at the school and she has access to a refrigerator. What would help her even more if the school could temporarily accommodate her to have short breaks so she could pump regularly. If a school has several teachers that are also pumping, they may benefit by purchasing a hospital grade pump to ensure their teachers can be efficient at pumping milk.
With these suggestions, the teacher can plan and work with the school in advance so she will be able to meet her breastfeeding goals when she returns to work. It is important for both the employer and mother to work together to ensure her success and the school’s. To learn more about how you can work with your employees so you can both benefit from a good breastfeeding program, contact Healthy Horizons for more about corporate lactation.